This book is not the work of a man who has analyzed the topic of disability from an ivory tower, but the work of one who has wrestled with the pressing realities and daily battles of living with the presence of a disability. If that person is you, maybe you too will read this book and say to yourself, “Here is a man who understands!”
Paul Tautges did not intend to write a book on disability until a fateful trip to the Gospel Coalition national conference in April 2011. It was there that Paul met another father of multiple children with disabilities, John Knight of Desiring God ministries. Tautges is the father of ten kids, four of whom are affected by congenital hearing impairment, one of whom also has cognitive disabilities and autism. Tautges once experienced the deep pain of knowing that due to her deafness, his daughter had never processed his tender attempts to tell her that he loved her. After a few hours of kindred conversation, Knight asked Tautges point-blank about writing a book on disability. When Disability Hits Home is the fruit of that conversation, many challenging days of parentings, and many years of preaching and teaching his church about the God who is present and near to the disabled.
In this book, Tautges seeks to minister to families who have been touched by disability. The strength of this book rests in the fact that Tautges does not back down from the challenging questions surrounding disability—specifically the issues of God’s providence and purposes for such immense suffering and difficultly in life. Early in the work, Tautges goes straight to the heart of his counsel for those whose lives have been impacted by disability—we must believe that what God’s Word says is true. All things in life—including disability—are from God, through God, and to God.
“God’s sovereignty is the truth which assures us that, regardless of secondary causes of disability, God remains in the primary position. Secondary causes are endless: genetic abnormalities, disease, work-related accidents, birth defects, war and civil violence, athletic injuries, drunk drivers who run through red lights, failed suicide attempts, abuse . . . the list goes on. But the primary cause is singular: God. The good, wise, kind, sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all never ceases to watch over his creation for his glory and our good” (p. 21).
Tautges walks through various vital truths for those who are processing the presence and impact of disability. He explores God’s presence in disability (chapter 2), God’s purposes for disability (chapter 3), and an especially challenging yet comforting section on God’s particular care in the creation of every individual, including those who are born with disabilities (chapter 4). Also scattered throughout the work are mini segments from Joni Eareckson Tada titled “From Joni’s Heart…” that provide stories and meditations upon the spiritual truths explored by Tautges in that chapter.
Along the way, Tautges challenges able-bodied readers to consider the allegory of physical disability and the truths it communicates about our spiritual disability. Jesus constantly interacts with disabled people throughout His ministry—the blind, the deaf, the sick, and the disabled. But Jesus constantly uses these individuals to expose a greater—or rather the greater—disability that rests within all of us. From God’s perspective, we are all naturally disabled.
“Every human being is blind, deaf, and cognitively disabled to some degree. All of us have been negatively impacted by the fall of man from his original glory, and each of us continues to fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). As a result, inability is our greatest disability, and it was this which Jesus Christ came to cure. Every human being’s greatest need, whether “abled” or “dis-abled,” is for the grace of God to overcome our spiritual disabilities. This is why Jesus came to earth” (p. 51).
Tautges helps Christians to recognize the unconventional blessings of the presence of suffering and brokenness in our lives. In one of the most powerful sections of the book, Tautges reflects pastorally upon Paul’s pleading with the Lord in 2 Corinthians 12 to remove the “thorn in his flesh.”